Sunday - Jan 17, 2021

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Superbowl XL in Review

You know how when you attend a fireworks display, and you know it’s the grand finale – rockets are being shot into the air within second of each other and the big boomers are launched by the dozens – and there’s a brief pause, then they light the final, biggest rocket.  This is the one that is going to fill the night sky and is accompanied by the biggest boom of them all.  You see the trail go up into the sky, and then, something goes wrong and it doesn’t go off?  You’re left wondering if the display is over, could that be it?  Could it be over?  Isn’t there one more?  So you gather your belongings and head home, yearning for something that seemed to have ended prematurely.  Something that ended without that one last final boom. 

That’s how I feel this morning.  We had two weeks of preparation and hype for this game, we’re watching the game and….when the final gun sounded, all I could think to myself was:  “That’s it?  Is it really over?”  Surely there must be another quarter of action left to play….but there was not.  Pittsburgh and Seattle battled on the field in a game where the defenses got the better of the offenses, and the Steelers pulled off just enough big plays to claim the Lombardi Trophy for their die hard fans. 

Decent game, decent overall broadcast.  I did like the pregame ceremony, bringing out all the past Superbowl MVPs was very cool.  Like most people at my house, we were wishing that Joe Namath had a microphone on (“I want to kiss you all”).  A good amount of the commercials were funny, seems like all the beer companies know what they are doing.  A few I thought missed the mark, win some, lose some.  Overall, it was the Superbowl and it was a good viewing.  Let’s get into the game…

Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10
Playing in their college like blues, Seattle won the opening toss and their offense was first to take the field.  And early on it was the Darrell Jackson (50 yards) show.  Seattle seemingly ran every play thru Jackson, with success every time they did so.  Jackson ended up catching a record tying 5 balls in the first quarter alone, but did not have a catch the rest of the game.  Curious.  The Seahawks first drive would stall at midfield, giving the Steelers their first chance show their offense. 

Pittsburgh would not find success on their opening drive, a penalty on first down setting them back where they would not be able to convert a first on this drive.  This would be a trend that would continue for much of the first quarter, Seattle getting a couple first downs before punting, then Pittsburgh going three and out. 

Seattle was winning the field position battle, their third drive of the game starting at midfield.  Matt Hasselbeck (273 yards, TD, int) would lead his team down the field, and he would find Jackson in the endzone from 16 yards out.  Alas, Jackson was guilty of pass interference, and Seattle was forced to call upon Josh Brown to open up the game’s scoring from 47 yards out. 

The Steelers would again go without a first down, but again their defense would keep the Seahawks from getting any points either.  Pittsburgh would finally get a first down, then an end around on first and ten gained a nice chunk of 18 yards.  From there, Ben Roethlisberger (123 yards, 2 int, rushing TD) would continue his poor first half, his pass intercepted at the Seattle 17 yard line.  But just when momentum seemed to be on the side of the birds, Pittsburgh’s defense held Seattle without a first down. 

Eight minutes remained in the half, and like many, I was wondering if we’d be seeing any more scoring in this game.  The Steelers would turn to Willie Parker (93 yards, TD) on their next drive, taking small pieces of real estate, but the chains were moving down the field.  When Roethlisberger was sacked back to the Seattle 40, creating a third and 28, it looked like yet another drive would end with a punter on the field.  On the third down play, Big Ben scrambled to buy some time, and then heaved an ill advised pass towards the goal line.  Hines Ward (123 yards, TD) somehow came down with the ball on the one yard line, and the Steelers were in business.  Seattle kept the bus out of the endzone twice, and on third down Roethlisberger barely got into the endzone, the tip of the ball crossing the goal line.  After officials confirmed with replay, Pittsburgh had the lead and the game finally had a touchdown. 

With under two minutes to play, the Seahawks would move the ball, but time was not on their side.  Josh Brown came in to attempt a 54 yard field goal, but his kick was wide and the teams went into the locker room. 

The yearning for more scoring in the second half would be satisfied on the second play of the half.  After an incompletion, Pittsburgh would hand the ball to Willie Parker and after breaking thru the line, he went untouched thru the secondary.  75 yards later he was in the endzone to extend the Steeler lead.  Seattle would attempt to respond, moving as close as the Pittsburgh 32 yard line, but Josh Brown’s 50 yard boot was wide to the left this time. 

With Seattle reeling, the Steelers were looking to put the game away.  Pittsburgh would move the ball well, but facing third down at the Seahawk 7 yardline, Roethlisberger would be picked off again.  Kelly Herndon had the ball and an entourage of blockers taking him down the field.  76 yards later he was brought down, putting Seattle on the 20 yardline.  Three plays later, Jerramy Stevens (25 yards, TD) finally held onto a pass, this one a 16 yard scoring play.  14-10!  We have a game!

Defenses once again took over, and the remainder of the third frame was played without any more scoring.  Seattle got their offense settled down, and as the third quarter came to a close, they were on the move.  Shaun Alexander (95 yards) was picking up good ground and the Seahawks were moving deep into Steeler territory.  But this time is was Hasselbeck’s turn to make a poor decision, his third down throw was intercepted at the five yard line, an opportunity to take the lead lost. 

A 24 yard runback gave the momentum back to the Pittsburgh sideline, and you had the feeling they’d have to dip into the trick play book to put this game away.  And that’s just what they did, after converting a first down to midfield, Roethlisberger handed off to Willie Parker, and he handed the ball to Antwaan Randle El.  Randle was working his way across the field on an end around, then he threw the ball downfield to Hines Ward, who had a step on his nearest defender.  Ward caught the ball in stride and the 43 yard play was good for a touchdown. 

Though there was nearly nine minutes still in the game, things were not looking good on the Seattle sideline.  Hasselbeck would get sacked on third down, forcing another punt.  Pittsburgh would go to work on the clock, and they would have success in doing so.  Big Ben converted a third and six to Randle El, then he would scramble for a first down on third and three.  The Steelers held the ball to the two minute warning before punting. 

There would not be enough time for a miracle.  Hasselbeck would move Seattle to the Steeler 23 yard line, but when his fourth down pass to Stevens fell to the ground, the celebration was on…Pittsbugh Steelers, Superbowl XL Champions!!


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